One of the qualities that fans appreciate most about Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is his unselfishness, and more than one fighter has been helped by “Minotauro” at some point in his career. One of those fighters, Junior dos Santos, defends the heavyweight belt on Saturday against Cain Velasquez at UFC 155 in Las Vegas. Confident in his pupil, Nogueira recently told PVT that he had never seen the champion so well prepared for a fight.
What follows is an exclusive interview with the Nogueira, who also discusses tapings for the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” and his expectations for his brother Antonio Rogerio Nogueira’s duel against Rashad Evans at UFC 156.
What did you think of the first Circuit Team Nogueira?
It was a great event, which celebrated five years of Team Nogueira, done in partnership with Midway. It was also important because we allowed our athletes to fight, and we also want talents of other gyms to meet ours. We want test them. Our intention is to make an event that enters the national circuit. The next edition will be on Jan. 12, and will be broadcast on the Combate channel. We intend to hold six events in 2013. This first event was exciting.
Do you already have names for the next edition?
The next event will include Duda Yankovich, Andre "Chatuba" Santos, Igor Chatuba and will have ten fights. We want the best of national MMA. We played a well balanced card, lost two early, and then recovered. The show was beautiful.
At what event will belts be on the line?
Starting with the third event; [we want to] let the circuit get stronger first.
When will taping for the second edition of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” begin?
I heard that they will begin in February in São Paulo, but the dates are not set..
What is your expectation for Junior dos Santos against Cain Velasquez at UFC 155?
I never saw “Cigano” look so good, in such perfect shape. I saw his best sparring session, with five different fighters, and he had cardio for all five rounds. It's amazing, “Cigano” is abnormal. Ramon Lemos, Luiz Dorea, Ewerton Teixeira, everyone in the camp did excellent work with “Cigano.” Velasquez is good, but I think by the third round “Cigano” finishes.
How will your brother fare against Rashad Evans at UFC 156?
Rogerio is well trained, motivated and in a great camp. We will bring two Russians to assist in training. He' s working a lot of punches and knees. He's training hard on the ground and in the final part of camp will focus on wrestling.